Choosing an Event Venue – When you’re planning a special event, finding the right venue usually tops the list. A venue can definitely make all the difference. No matter how much hard work you put into making your event perfect, the wrong venue can overshadow all your hard work. Whether you’re planning a business meeting, a holiday party, a weekend long retreat, or an anniversary party, there are some important things to consider when exploring venues.
As the old real estate saying goes, nothing beats a great location. The venue you choose should be easy for your guests to get to, have ample parking, and be accommodating for individuals of varying mobility. If your event will have out of town guests, choose a location that has a selection of hotels and restaurants in the area. If it’s a multi-day event, try to find a venue that offers attractions to visitors so they have something to do during downtime. For business, and professional or personal development events, choosing a venue in a location where there is great sightseeing, unique cultural or entertainment activities, and other interesting things to do and see, can be a big selling point to get attendees to register.
The venue must be the right size for your event. A space too small will make guests feel crowded. Too large, and it will feel cavernous and underattended. You need to have a pretty good idea how many people will be attending before choosing a venue. Event venues can give you specific capacity information for all their rooms and spaces, so be sure to check that information.
A venue that has different rooms or spaces is a great feature should your event turn out smaller or larger than you originally planned. These options will also give you choices for where to have areas such as registration, special displays, and food set up. Your guests will also appreciate the extra room to move about.
What is a special event without some sort of refreshment?! Whether you are hosting a midday business meeting or an evening cocktail reception, your venue needs to either offer catering or be able to accommodate outsourced catering services. A venue with an adequate kitchen for food preparation is preferable. Also inquire about bar and beverage service options. In order to serve alcoholic beverages at a public venue, someone needs to hold a liquor license. Does the venue have its own staff that will accommodate these needs or will you have to hire an outside caterer to come in and provide everything? The food and beverages is a big part of your overall budget, so be sure you are clear on what you need and what your venue can provide.
All events have a budget, and choosing a venue often comes down to price. Be sure you are comparing apples to apples when considering venues. A venue may charge flat rates for certain things, while others charge by the number of guests. Some require food and beverage minimums, others offer packages. Some venues have a lot of event resources such as tables and chairs, linens and dishes, and A/V equipment on site. These may or may not be included in their packages. At some venues all these items are an additional rental you will need to coordinate and pay for. Be sure to ask what exactly is included, and what might be additional fees. While of course price is important, you want to be sure you can create the event you envision with the least amount of hassle. A lot of individual charges and fees can add up quickly.
Make sure the venue has experienced, helpful and friendly staff! Even if you get a great deal and all the amenities you want, inattentive or cranky staff can ruin your event. Ask questions about the experience of the staff, who is your point of contact throughout the planning process, and who will be there to help you the day of the event. Professional event venues generally have an Event Manager, and you should feel you are getting great customer service right off the bat. You want to be working with someone that will help ensure you have a successful event.
Working with a venue with staff that is experienced in hosting similar events to yours can be priceless. Dedicated event staff can help you with planning details, make helpful suggestions, and guide you through some of the logistics of putting an event together. They will know what type of set up and catering will work, provide A/V support, and even help you plan the menu. Because they know the venue inside and out, they will be able to provide creative solutions should issues arise (and they always do) on the day of your event.